Over the past decade, even during a population boom, the underlying economics of Aurora, Illinois have put it on the fast-track to becoming the Detroit of Illinois.
10 years of corruption, wild spending, skyrocketing debt, massive tax increases and fiscal irresponsibility by Mayor Tom Weisner, political boss Robert "Bob" Vaughan and all their cronies and crooks (including corrupt cop Kristen Ziman) who have ripped off taxpayers are only PART of the problem.
There was a limited opportunity with the "great recession" to clean house and clean slate much of the decay, blight and chronic failures of the city.
One of the best symbols is Old Copley Hospital that continues to sit, thanks to Weisner's campaign fundraiser, Raghuveer Nayak, who ended up in federal prison.
It should have been demolished long ago instead of being a snake wrapped around the near east side.
There's the Shodeen Fiasco that was supposed to bring tax increment to the city...seven years ago (and has generated zero and never will), there are layers of failures by Weisner's corrupt regime that will take a generation to fix, assuming it can ever be fixed.
Making the situation worse, layers of salary increases, luxury pensions and taxpayers fleeing with mountains of debt from corrupt public projects such as the Aurora Police Palace to RiverEdge Park to the Aurora Public Library, will make it nearly impossible to reverse the sinking ship.
Hollywood Casino has continued to dwindle as a revenue source and it's only a matter of time that it dies.
It has failed to provide any real positive economic impact across downtown, except for gaming tax revenue, which has mostly been wasted by the mayor and city council crooks on slush funds, parties and cronies.
The one exception to all this arguably could be the outlet mall at the city's far northeast corner, which has generated some sales tax revenue that helps mask Aurora's economic cancer everywhere else.
The truth is the outlet mall didn't choose Aurora because it was a great place to be, but rather it had enough undeveloped land close to the tollway.
And, leaving aside all the giveaways of taxpayer funds to bring it here, it's located in the Batavia School District, so doesn't address the crisis of education on Aurora's east side.
As the internet and e-commerce continue to boom, the need for malls continues to decline. Fox Valley Mall is over 40 years old and includes anchor stores like Sears, JCPenney and Macy's that are each in decline.
As Aurora pushes out higher economics and Illinois collapses under the pension ponzi scheme, the other problem is who will be the customers for high-end stores?
Maybe Aurora's malls don't die next year. First, they will sputter, decay and shutter, but eventually, they WILL DIE.
The sooner that economic reality is understood, the sooner Aurora can plan ahead for Plan B.
And, Plan B is...
...well, there is no Plan B.
What should happen to the dead malls in Aurora?
What economic development will replace it?
Shopping malls are dying:
Retailers like Sears, JCPenney, and Macy's have been closing hundreds of locations over the last several years, leaving dead or dying shopping malls in their wake as they try to remain profitable amid the growing threat of e-commerce.
But these closures are just the tip of the iceberg, according to a new report from real-estate research firm Green Street Advisors.
Department stores need to close as many as 800 more locations — or one-fifth of all anchor space in US malls — to return to the levels of productivity they saw 10 years ago, according to the report, which was first cited by The Wall Street Journal.
Sears would have to close about 300 stores (or nearly half of its existing locations), JCPenney would have to close 320 stores (31% of its current fleet), Nordstrom would have to close 30 stores (25% of its fleet), and Macy's would have to close 70 stores (9% of its total) to generate the kind of sales per square foot they saw in 2006.
The closures could force hundreds more shopping malls in the US to shut down, according to Green Street.
Department stores, known as mall anchors, have traditionally been major traffic drivers for shopping malls.
But their sales have been declining industry-wide for nearly a decade. Overall, departments stores' average productivity — or sales per square foot — has dropped 24% to $165 per square foot since 2006, according to the report.
Once anchors shut down, mall owners can have a difficult time finding retailers large enough to replace them.
Many owners are aiming to replace department stores with movie theaters, restaurants, and discount retailers like TJ Maxx, Ross Stores, and Marshalls.
But if a mall is hit by two or more anchor closures at once, then it's harder to stay afloat. That's typically the beginning of a downward spiral leading to ultimate extinction.
"'Troubled' malls anchored by Sears, JCPenney, and Macy's are at the greatest death spiral risk," the report says.
Most struggling malls don't go down without a long, drawn-out fight, however — the evidence of which exists in hundreds of communities across the country where vacant wings of various shopping centers are beginning to crumble and decay.
States hit particularly badly include Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, and Illinois, according to DeadMalls.com, which tracks mall closures.
Sears announced a fresh round of closures in February. The company said that it would shut down 78 stores by this summer.
One month earlier, JCPenney said that it would close seven stores, bringing its total count to about 1,000, and Macy's said it would close 40 stores, bringing its total count to about 770.